The ancient art of the mandala brings upon an individual a feeling of completeness and enlightenment. Named for the Sanskrit word for circle, the mandala has long been used as a healing and meditation tool. Many cultures from one end of the globe to another have the mandala as part of their religion – a way to tap into the soul or psyche. Is it any wonder, therefore, that mandalas can be used in art therapy?
A representation of life to many, the mandala can be seen everywhere we look. From the very tiny atom to the Earth or Sun themselves, this circle truly is life. Wherever there is a circle with a center, there you will find a mandala.
When using mandalas as art therapy the shapes that are chosen, as well as the colors can be as symbolic as the artist wants them to be. The therapeutic journey is the actual creation of the mandala itself rather than the final outcome. The mandala will become a self portrait of sorts of its creator. The emotions and feelings that are felt at the time of creation will be transformed into the mandala itself as these bring life to the journey.
When in art therapy, and you are creating your mandalas, it is usually up to the patient what types of materials are to be used. Be it oils or watercolors, colored pencils or pastels, allow whatever is chosen to guide them instinctively along the path of healing, It’ll be up to the patient on what media will be used: canvas, poster board, or paper.
As the patient taking part in the art therapy, write down the colors that are used in the mandala, the predominate and lesser colors, and make note what you were feeling or thinking at the time you drew with those particular colors. The images and shapes within the mandala will be important to you as well as the hard and soft lines. Every little piece of your artwork is equally important to the other. There are no accidents, there are no coincidences.
The only true structure to the mandala that you need to worry about is the circular center. In the religions, this is the house of the deity(s) that are worshiped and for which the mandala was built for. The center can be construed as the soul, the heart, the center of the universe itself. Radiate out from the center as you create the mandala. Never lose sight of where you are coming from and where you are going to on your therapeutic mandala journey. Relish in your joy that you feel over your creation.
Mandalas as art therapy will bring about several benefits to the patient. The satisfaction will bring about a higher level of self awareness, show an improvement in self esteem as well as the mood of the individual. As the patient becomes entranced within the journey of creation they will find their heart rate, blood pressure and breathing will all slow down. Of course, there will be a bit of a brain exercise if art isn’t a regular part of the day for the patient.
As since ancient history, mandalas as art therapy brings about a certain wholeness and spiritual transformation as healing takes place.
Open source image of children coloring from Flickr.